Tuesday, May 31, 2005

CANAL BIKE RIDE ON OUR 24th. Married in Indianapolis on May 30, 1981, Becky and I enjoyed our 24th wedding anniversary yesterday. We shared an early evening bike ride along the Canal and White River Greenway. We might have taken a gondola ride on the Canal (complete with a serenading violin), but we both would have felt pretty conspicuous.

HOW SHALL WE ANSWER? Michael B. Ross, Executive Director of The Pastor's Institute, sent the words to a hymn he sang as a guest in his son's church on Sunday. Even after a Google search, I have not discovered the author. "The Summons" asks powerful questions. May God give us all grace to respond "Yes," as verse 4 does.

1. Will you come and follow me
if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown,
will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown
in you and you in me?

2. Will you leave yourself behind
if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind
and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare
should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer
in you and you in me?

3. Will you love the ‘you’ you hide
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside
and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
Through my sight and touch and sound
in you, and you in me?

4. Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
in you and you in me.

Monday, May 30, 2005

National observances like Memorial Day afford us an opportunity to contemplate how far we have to go as a nation--and as a human family--in transforming our means of advancing liberty, encouraging democracy, and promoting justice. War--and those whose lives are snuffed out or haunted by it--gives us every indication that we have not yet explored or employed our best intellectual and spiritual resources for addressing conflicts. Every Memorial Day and Veteran's Day is an opportunity to consider: "Given the cost in these precious lives, we must find a better way, not just repeat the past again and again."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Summer Blessing

A SUMMER BLESSING. Though the "official" start of summer is three weeks away, Memorial Day weekend is for most folks the unofficial kick-off. So, here's my homemade blessing for your summer...

May summer warm your soul.
May you, like all plant life, flourish and
grow in this season of sun.
May you absorb life in these months.
May you find
work fulfilling,
play renewing,
relationships reconciling,
faith deepening.
May you return in your heart
to the beach,
to the campground,
to the drive-in,
to the garden
to the friendships
to the sports field,
to the forests,
and far-off places
that fueled imagination
and freedom to explore.
May you once again be changed
in a season of life called

[Note: Portions of this entry appeared as a "Letter to the Editor" in the Indianapolis Star on Monday, May 30, 2005, Memorial Day]

"MEMORIAL DAY" VS. "VETERAN'S DAY." For anyone who might be wondering: Memorial Day (formerly known as "Decoration Day") honors all who have lost their lives in military service to America. Veteran's Day honors all living military Veterans who have served in an American war. Click here for a brief history/explanation of Memorial Day. I find it valuable to contemplate the likenesses and differences between these two national observances.

MEMORIAL DAY IS NOT A PRO-WAR DAY. Memorial Day observance is not synonymous with being pro-war. Nor do I think conscientious objectors, pacifists, nonviolence advocates, peace seekers, war resisters, or war protesters should yield their patriotism to anyone on such days. Whether or not I think a particular war is justified, or whether or not I think war is a valid approach to resolving international or intra-national conflicts, I can--and do--honor all who have died or served our nation in times of war.

PROFOUND RESPECT. For me, honoring the war dead or the living who have served does not "bless" war or condone violence. For me, it affords an opportunity to express my profound respect for those who have served in war--often involuntarily, often with grave reservations, often in the face of terrible options, often with little awareness of how they were being deployed and for what particular small or great objectives.

WE MUST FIND A BETTER WAY. Simultaneously, these observances afford us an opportunity to contemplate how far we have to go as a nation--and as a human family--in transforming our means of advancing liberty, encouraging democracy, and promoting justice. War--and those whose lives are snuffed out or haunted by it--gives us every indication that we have not yet explored or employed our best intellectual and spiritual resources for addressing conflicts. Every Memorial Day and Veteran's Day is an opportunity to consider: "Given the cost in these precious lives, we must find a better way, not just repeat the past again and again."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

SAM AT THE TRACK. Along with 50,000 other folks, Sam and I took in Carb Day (that's "Carburetion Day," not "Carbohydrates Day," though, considering the amount of beer we saw being consumed, it might as well be the latter!) at IMS on Friday. The sound and power of 33 600+ hp Indy cars taking practice laps together at over 220 mph is enough to rattle your insides. It's quite a display of power and finese.

Friday, May 27, 2005


SURPRISE CLAUSE IN "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND." Six months ago, concerned that Ben Davis High School was giving the military access to my 17-year old son's personal records, I pursued the issue and discovered--with the help of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union--that this open records access to all branches of the military was part of the "No Child Left Behind" Act of Congress. Short of working to get the law changed, there is apprently nothing an individual can do to stop it.

"OPT OUT" OPTION. The only immediate option available is to request an "opt out" before the child turns 17. This "opt out" option prevents military sources from acquiring the school records of a child when they turn 17. Our school district--the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township--did not inform parents about this option. Now several slick military recruiting mailers arrive at our home each week now. I intercept most of them (I'm building quite a stack of unopened military recruiting mailers...your tax dollars at work!), but not all. I do not know if it is now possible to stop the mailings; I am pursuing this.

POVERTY DRAFT. Of course what the military is doing is a poverty draft--preying on kids with little money and few options. Recruiters and the slick mailers don't talk about going to war, they just talk about opportunities to serve your community and country, get job skills, and money for education. They prey on the poor. That's why the income of the families of the majority of young people in the military is below the national median family income.

SHAME ON YOU, EDUCATORS! Of all people and institutions, educators should be ashamed of themselves for going along with this policy. This is, to me, similar to the vision portrayed in the Book of Revelation, in which a child being born is snatched from its mother's lap by a dragon. And the midwife? School administrators. Are you going to be hand-wringers or people who act with integrity for the best possible futures for the students you say you are there to serve?

WHILE WE WORK... Military recruiting is nasty business. But its nastiness has been intensified and brought to a high school campus in your community. Our neighborhood 15-year olds are likely seeing impressive, high-tech weaponry displayed and experiencing heavy-handed tactics by military recruiters at the local school. While we work peaceably, our nation's military--with the permission of the Congress and direction of the President we elected--is doing its dead level best to get our children to believe that their best option for their future--and the future of the nation--is a military one. Are you satisfied with this? I'm not.

HOW TO REGISTER PROTEST & "OPT OUT" OF SCHOOL-BASED MILITARY RECRUITING. Sojourners pointed me to an organization with an Internet site that let me register my protest against using the "No Child Left Behind" education act to open school records to military recruiters. It also let me send a letter to our district's school superintendent requesting that the school withhold my children's names and personal information from military sources seeking to recruit them. The organization is Working Assets, the project is called "Leave My Child Alone," and the website is http://www.leavemychildalone.org.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


PRIVATE OR PUBLIC? BOTH! Parker Palmer makes a solid case for being a border crosser in daily living. He sees the cross at the cross-section of our private and public spheres. Instead of retreating from the complexities of the public realm, he challenges us to make real the claims of Christian faith right there. As Jim Wallis points out, "Faith may be personal, but it can never be private."

THE WAY OF THE CROSS. "The cross which many Christians are called to bear involves the contradictions of contemporary life. And these contradictions are especially pronounced in the public realm. Christian faith, the way of the cross, empowers us to live these contradictions creatively instead of retreating from them as we so often do. The way of the cross both leads us into public life and gives us the grace to live there..."

LIVING IN THE TENSION. Palmer continues: "The way of the cross challenges us not to remove tension from our lives by avoiding the places where tension is found, or by abandoning the convictions that cause us to feel tension. Instead, the cross points to another way, a way of 'living the contradictions,' a way of taking tension into our lives and transforming it from a force of destruction into an energy of creation."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BRIDGE OVER MURKY WATERS. The Buert SerVaas Bridge spans the shallow, murky waters of Fall Creek near downtown Indianapolis, connecting 10th Street to Riverside Drive North and the White River Greenway. A bike/hike bridge, it's really a rather graceful piece of engineering that most folks in Indy have never seen. It effectively serves to link biking/hiking paths from downtown to the far northside. You can access it on the north side of W. 10th Street across from the VA Hosipital.

Monday, May 23, 2005

BORDER CROSSERS. I penned the following piece after working with John 4 ("Jesus had to go through Samaria...", i.e., Jesus chose intentionally to cross a significant cultural border for the sake of expressing the Kingdom). I was contemplating the daily challenges and learning opportunities of border crossing afforded all of us who live in a metropolitan area. This piece is featured in this week's edition of GRACE NOTES: Weekly Fragments from the Margins of a Graced Life.

Driving my car, I cross a border;
with hardly a notice
slice through historic turf
that defined and defied
urban neighbors for years.

More unmarked boundaries
pass beneath my wheels.
In another era they would have
separated white from black,
native-born from immigrant,
rich from poor.

Insulated, I crisscross the city—
mobile, transient, unfettered.
These freeways bypass realities,
offering commuter illusions
of debt-free passage and place.

To one, this passing cityscape
appears an unbounded horizon;
to another it is precariously cut and
quartered territories—
staked, claimed, developed,
defended, abandoned, rehabbed.

One travels in and out of the urban core
with nary a thought (except gratitude
that one does not reside here);
another moves among these neighborhoods
acutely aware of spirit and place,
in reverence for soulful struggles.

One uses the city and retreats;
another embraces its rhythms.
One merely consumes its resources;
another, fueled by its complexities,
dares to steward what one still
seeks to understand.

We all cross these borders;
daily traverse a living polis
layered with polarity and paradox,
pulsating with power for shalom,
calling each to love the whole--
honoring one neighbor at a time.

WHERE IS THIS? I had fun with the last urban landscape quiz (scroll down to the photo of the bridge); let's try this one. The only hint I will give you is that it is an urban park. Guess where and which one?

Sunday, May 22, 2005


TURNS OUT NEWSWEEK WASN'T WRONG. After all the brow-beating Newsweek took by the White House for publishing an anonymously-sourced story on the desecration of the Koran by American military interrogators in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it turns out that Newsweek's story was based in reality. Reports range from Americans ripping out and wadding up pages and writing foul language in the Koran to urinating and stomping on it. Read the LA Times story here.

THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE. Even though Newsweek bowed to political pressure and retracted the story it published, other reports and investigations reveal widespread and intentional desecration of the Koran by U.S. interrogators, not just in Guantanamo, but in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under pressure from the International Red Cross organization--and in an effort to stop hunger strikes by Islamic prisoners who were protesting the abuses--the U.S. "officially" stopped the practice of abusing the Koran as a way of humiliating detainees suspected of acts of terrorism. But the damage has been done.

"ANYTHING GOES." Repercussions of this latest revelation of what American military and intelligence agents have gotten by with behind closed doors and out of the sight and hearing of a free press will likely reverberate throughout the world. Apparently anxious to get at information that would help our Commander-in-Chief reach his goals, aggressive interrogators have been singing "Anything Goes." Remember, the President has determined (under the advice of the man who is now our Attorney General) that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to these detainees. Rules and guidelines that would have prohibited the desecration of holy documents or restriction of religious rites have been set aside and disregarded.

HOW ABOUT HOLY PEOPLE? And it is most interesting to me that while many are justifiably concerned about the mistreatment of a holy book--whether it be the Koran or the Bible--we are not expressing justifiable concern about the mistreatment and abuse of holy people. It is a shame to abuse documents considered sacred; how much more a travesty to desecrate people--all of whom have been created in the image of God.

SANE AND HUMANE. If detainees have committed crimes against humanity, let the due process of civil justice prevail (and if interrogators have committed crimes against detainees, let the due process of civil justice prevail). It is the only sane and humane vehicle the civilized world has. But if we stoop to treat those whom we suspect of terrorism like animals, we have become the thing we hate. Have we crossed the line? Apparently some, representing the rest of us, have.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

MAY IRISES & MY CANNONDALE. I took this photo after this Saturday morning's ride around Indianapolis International Airport. Becky's irises are in full bloom. This is a beautiful part of the season in Indy. We're one week away from the 500 Festival Parade, the Indianapolis 500 race, and Memorial Day cook-outs and soccer tournaments. "God shed his grace on thee."

SHODDY JOB. I am still mulling over the incredibly poor story on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that I tried to watch on 20/20 last night. Not only did ABC do a really poor (my high school wrestling coach would use another adjective) job in preparation and in using a lightweight like Ms. Vargas to try to go head to head with seasoned liberal theologians and historians, they simply did not represent the range of scholarship, history, and tradition on the subject.

GOOD JOURNALISM, PLEASE. ABC & 20/20: You get a C- from me. And I am no fundamentalist or partisan conservative evangelical! The public deserves better and you can do better. Please get back to good journalism. Maybe I shouldn’t continue to expect more. Many of my Christian friends have given up on the mainstream news media (as if alternative sources are better!?). But I continue to hold out hope for a revival/rebirth of civic journalism. A level and objective playing field that the pubic respects in the news media can be the best friend Christendom ever had.

SPECULATIVE, DISMISSIVE THEORIES. I guess what irks me as much as ABC's shoddy coverage of the central faith story of Christianity (I wonder if they would do such a bad job covering the central stories of Judaism and Islam?), were the laughable notions and dismissive theories about how Jesus was or was not resurrected, what they think really took place, what kind of post-resurrection body Jesus had, and how the early believers where hood-winked into believing something that really, literally--according to these religious pundits--did not happen.

IS THIS THE BEST WE CAN OFFER? If what these experts said on 20/20 is the best the academy can offer the church and the world regarding an apology of the Christian faith, it is no wonder the church is in such trouble. The ideas these theologians and historians offered were based less on scholarship and based more on their own notions. Perhaps they were speaking out of their own doubts and religious experiences (or lack thereof?). I don't know. I just know they neither reflected a respectable range of Biblical scholarship, nor the history, tradition and experience of the church. And they did not speak for me. Can I get a witness?

AN OPEN LETTER? I just found the whole 20/20 media production--masking as good, objective journalism--very troubling. I am considering an open letter to Ms. Vargas and the 20/20 writers. Or perhaps to the theologians and historians who purported to speak for Christians worldwide when they spouted their notions about the Resurrection on camera (a blog--like this--is an appropriate place to spout personal notions, not international news media!). More later.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Unsettle me.
Unsettle my settledness
Which breeds complacency.
Unsettle my settledness
Which is the playground of vanity
And spiritual pride.
Agitate my soul
To hear and see again
The pain and promise
Which brought You near.

Settle me.
Settle my unsettledness
Which breeds anxiety.
Settle my unsettledness
Which is the playground of discontent
And spiritual shallowness.
Anchor my soul
To Word and Sacrament
The substance and promise
Which You bring near.

UNFORGETTABLE FINALE. Last night's Pacers-Pistons game is one that will linger with me for a long time. The tears and cheers by all--including the Pistons players and coach--speak louder than the brawl in Detroit last fall. Reggie Miller shined in his very last game, scoring 27 points in a frantic all-out effort. After 18 years at Indiana and at age 39, Miller is hanging it up. I was pleased that my son, Jared, was able to attend this memorable moment in sports history. Thanks for the great effort and unforgettable on-court inspiration, Reggie.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

SAVED BY HOPE...FAITH...AND LOVE. The following Reinhold Neibuhr quote was waiting in my inbox today from the folks at Bruderhof. It is a statement that must not be received passively. It cannot granted any notion of resignation. It is a call to action, to change, to intensively and aggressively address our generation's toughest spiritual and social issues...and to do so with limits of our energy, creativity, and time--and the future toward which God's love has come near--in mind and heart:
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint; therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

AUSSIE ROBBIE McEWEN WINS STAGE 10 BY A NOSE. It could not have been closer, but Australian sprint specialist Robbie McEwen nosed out reigning sprint king and Italian stallion Alessandro Patacchi at the finish line of Stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy). It was McEwen's third stage win in the tour. Petacchi dominated the sprints in last year's Giro. The Aussies--McEwen, Baden Cooke, Stuart O'Grady, Henk Vogels, and Matthew White have conspired to challenge Fassa Bortolo's "white train." There are 10 stages (mostly mountains) to go before the big finish in Milano on May 29.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

ON THE CANAL TOW PATH. This is one of the most scenic bike or walking trails in Central Indiana. Access the Indianapolis Water Company Canal tow path just north of the Naval Armory at W. 30th Street and White River Parkway East Drive. The canal tow path passes the Indianpaolis Museum of Art (cross the bridge to ride through the museum campus), Butler Univesity (cross the bridge into Holcomb Gardens), and Broad Ripple. The tow path offers access to fun mountain bike trails around Hidden Lake, which lies between the canal and White River to the west. This is a great urban resource. What are you waiting for?

THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF GRACE NOTES IS POSTED. Click here to read the following reflections:
  • Howard Thurman: The Principle of Concretion
  • Another House of Worship - a poem
  • War, Peace & Free Methodists

Monday, May 16, 2005

OPAL BANDY. This afternoon I will share a funeral message for a woman who obligated me with that responsibility years ago. I served as this elderly woman's pastor for six years but left that pastoral assignment in 1993. While I was her pastor she would remind me often that I was to preach her funeral, as she put it. It didn't matter the occasion--after a church service, at a fellowship gathering, on a routine visit--whatever else was said, she would remind me of this responsibility. After I left Shepherd Community, whenever I would see her or whenever we talked on the phone, she reminded me of this commitment. And I always told her I would fulfill it.

So, this afternoon, I will fulfill my sacred obligation to Opal Bandy.

Opal, it will be my privilege to "preach your funeral." I am unworthy to do so, but I will. Now, may God rest your soul as you begin to "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

WHERE IS THIS GRACEFUL BRIDGE LOCATED? The only hint I will give you is that it is in Indianapolis.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

AT THE SPEEDWAY. I spent a few hours at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday. "Fast Friday" it is called. It's the eve of Pole Day Qualifications (today), the open-wheeled Indy cars are reaching their highest speeds, and all teams have their drivers trying to find a bit faster way around the 2 1/2-mile oval. I watched Tomas Scheckter turn the fastest lap of the month, just a tick under 228 mph. Ten drivers, including rookie sensation Danica Patrick (yes, that's a girl...er, woman), turned laps at over 226 mph.

SPECTACULAR CRASH. I was there when rookie Paul Dana crashed hard into the turn 2 wall and Sam Hornish, Jr. ran over his debris at over 160 mph. It lifted Sam's car into an airborne backward flip. The car landed upside down and skidded to the infield. Hornish walked away unharmed; Dana is has back fractures and is at Methodist Hospital.

PEACENIK AND FLYBOY. Before thunderstorms rolled in, I watched twenty or so racers run laps. Throughout the day I talked to a man sitting in the stands next to me who turned out to be a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War (flew F-4s) and, more recently, Afghanistan (flew tankers/fuelers from Grissom AFB in Kokomo, Indiana). So a peacenik chatted with a military flyboy for a few hours. Turns out the Lt. Col. also has a son who had attended and played soccer at Olivet Nazarene University (as my daughter now does). I just thought this was interesting.

Friday, May 13, 2005


GRATEFUL FOR FM APPROACH. I am grateful for the Free Methodist approach to war and peace. I think it is Biblically consistent and reasonable. The following statement comes from the Book of Discipline:

1. We recognize the sovereign authority of government and the duty of all Christians to reverence the power, to obey the law, and to participate righteously in the administration of lawful order in the nation under whose protection they reside (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7). Members of our church should bear the responsibilities of good citizenship, and they have the right to act in the enforcement of law and the defense of the peace in accord with the conscience of each person.

2. We believe, however, that military aggression is indefensible as an instrument of national policy and strategy (Isaiah 2:3-4). The destruction of life and property, and the deceit and violence necessary to warfare are contrary to the spirit and mind of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 5:44-45). It is, therefore, the duty of all Christians to promote peace and goodwill, to foster the spirit of understanding and mutual trust among all people, and to work with patience for the renunciation of war as a means to the settlement of international disputes (Romans 12:18; 14:19).

3. It is our firm conviction that none of our people should be required to enter military training or to bear arms and that the consciences of our individual members should be respected (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). Therefore, we claim exemption from all military service for those who register officially with the church as conscientious objectors to war.

More about where Free Methodists stand on a range of historic and current issues: click here.

A SACRED SPACE. Stop by St. John the Forerunner Othodox Church when you can. This Near Westside Indianapolis community of faith is a place of peaceful respite and vibrant hope in the heart of the city. I always find a gracious welcome, instruction in the icons, and good conversation with Father Joseph Gibson. The Blaine Avenue exterior is simple; the interior is a powerful work of graceful art and iconography. Also: a wonderful little library and bookstore of Orthodox literature. Click here to learn more about St. John the Forerunner.

GOD HEALS...BY FAITH AND MEDCIAL SCIENCE. I found online the following statement of a fellow holiness group (Church of the Nazarene) regarding divine healing. Here is the official statement from their "Articles of Faith."

We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people to seek to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science.
Bible references given include: 2 Kings 5:1-19; Psalm 103:1-5; Matthew 4:23-24; 9:18-35; John 4:46-54; Acts 5:12-16; 9:32-42; 14:8-15; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; James 5:13-16.

FREE METHODIST STATEMENT ON DIVINE HEALING. The following is from the Free Methodist Book of Discipline:
"All healing, whether of body, mind, or spirit has its ultimate source in God who is 'over all and through all and in all' (Ephesians 4:6). He may heal by the mediation of surgery, medication, change of environment, counseling, corrected attitudes or through the restorative processes of nature itself. He may heal through one or more of the above in combination with prayer, or He may heal by direct intervention in response to prayer. The Scriptures report many cases of hte latter kind of healing which centers in the life and ministry of the apostles and the church. Consistent with the Scriptures (James 4:15-16), therefore, we urge our pastors to make opportunity for the sick and afflicted to come before God in the fellowship of the church, in strong faith that the God and Father of Jesus Christ is both able and willing to heal. At the same time, we recognize that although God's sovereign purposes are good and He is working toward final redemption which assures wholeness to all believers, He may not grant physical healing for all in this life. We believe that in such cases He can glorify himself through the resurretion to life everlasting."

AM I MISSING SOMETHING? If I understand the situation correctly... from news media sources, yesterday a Christian couple from Franklin, Indiana were found guilty by jury of their peers of reckless homicide for choosing to pray only instead of seeking medical attention for their infant, who died as a result of a lack of medical intervention. Apparently some in the evangelical Christian community are trying to make this some political rallying point.

CLEAR CUT CASE OF NEGLIGENCE. But based on what I understand of the case, and based on my own faith tradition's Biblical interpretation and understanding of healing, I would agree with the jury: the couple should have prayed earnestly and also sought all reasonable medical attention available as soon as possible. They did not do so and that constitutes negligence. This is not a faith vs. government, or faith vs. secularism, or faith vs. medical science case. A child needed medical help. The parents had it within their power to access it. They did not. The child died. They are liable.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I come to dwell for a while
in the sacred space
of another house of worship.

Its unfamiliarity, its strangeness
beckons me.
Though I feel not at home
here God is present
just the same.

Here liturgical life flows in rhythms
beyond my customary tuning
to the means of grace.
They resonate with an ancient faithfulness
in contrast to a shallow milieu
of contemporary worship.

Here all effort is made for past witness
to live as present guide to
an anticipated future.
The cloud of witnesses gather ‘round,
encouraging modern pilgrims to
live the Kingdom now.

I know this sojourn in my heart
and endeavor to affirm it in my own
house of worship. Still,
I am thankful for this sacred space,
and these fellow travelers.

I salute their distinctive journey
and open my own
to them.

PACERS RALLY, ARTEST SPOUTS OFF. Don't look now, but the much-maligned Pacers are currently even with the NBA champions, 1-1, after outscoring Detroit by 19 points in the second half Wednesday night. But even as the toughest, most second-guessed, most resilient squad in professional basketball grinds it out on the court, their volatile, season-banned teammate Ron Artest makes public bad mouth about his punishment for going into the stands to beat up fans on November 19, 2004.

A NOTE TO RON: Ron, your team is fighting the good fight where it belongs: on the court. You and your comments are an unnecessary distraction at this time. Don't hurt the team again. This playoff run is not about you. Please, be quiet and support your teammates at this time. (Photo is from AP)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

BETTINI POURS IT OUT. Giro d'Italia race leader Paulo Bettini shows his disgust after being disqualified from claiming a Stage 4 victory today. The little Italian rudely blocked a hard-charging challenge by Baden Cooke, sending the Aussie somersaulting into the crowd barricades 100 meters from the finish line. Still, Bettini is the overall race leader and will wear the maglia rosa (rose-colored jersey) in tomorrow's Stage 5. That's a lot of champagne down the drain...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

PROJECT INDEPENDENCE. Four new doubles are being built on West Morris Street at Kappes Avenue to house young people who are aging out of foster care. It is a cooperative effort between the West Indianapolis Community Development Corporation and Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. More than 1/3 of 18-year olds who age out of foster care become homeless within the first year. This community-based initiative offers housing, computer training, and supportive services until young people are economically independent and healthily interdependent in the community.

Monday, May 9, 2005


May 15, 2005 is Pentecost Sunday. How will you approach it? For reading: Acts 1-2.

Out of sheer obedience and
with more than a little
anxiety they gather
in an upper room,
their journey at a

The Teacher gone, would
his future be up to
the likes of them--
deserters, deniers, clamorers for
privileged places?

Guilt and anxiety pervade their
sacred assembly;
they can hardly believe it
comes down to them,
down to this.

Perhaps for not being able to bear
looking squarely at each other,
they bow in prayer.
Only then do they begin
to see.

Whatever it holds,
whatever it promises,
Pentecost can only be approached
on our knees.
The future, the vision,
the power, the passion
cannot otherwise
be known.

THIS WEEK'S "GRACE NOTES" POSTED. Click here to read this week's reflections, quotes, and poems. This week's contents:
  • Prodigal Father - a brief reflection on Luke 15:11-32
  • Original Mother's Day Declaration - it's not what you thought
  • Prayer of the Children - Kurt Bestor's inspiring song
  • Approaching Pentecost - a poem

Grace Notes is a weekly reflection and writing project I've been engaging since 1998. It is strictly non-commercial (though my original material is copyrighted), shared via e-mail with friends, and posted online.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

WHITE RIVER STATE PARK. Another urban public space in downtown Indianapolis that was a stroke of genius: White River State Park. It ties together Victory Field, the canal, the Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), three museums, the National Medal of Honor memorial, and the NCAA center. Lots of green space and paved paths, all bordering White River. Indy's own version of the National Mall?

AFTER FACSIMILES OF HOLINESS FADE. It’s been a while since I’ve inflicted readers with William Stringfellow. The following quote was originally found in a little volume entitled The Politics of Spirituality and anthologized by Bill Wylie Kellerman in A Keeper of the Word (Eerdmans, 1994). It speaks pointedly to me and my holiness tradition. Here is a radicality to be embraced after the facsimiles of holiness fade.

IMPLICATED WITHOUT SUCCOMBING. "Being holy, becoming and being a saint, does not mean being perfect but being whole; it does not mean being exceptionally religious, or being religious at all. It means being liberated from religiosity and religious pietism of any sort. It does not mean being godly, but rather being truly human. It does not mean being otherworldly, but it means being deeply implicated in the practical existence of this world without succumbing to this world or any aspect of this world, no matter how beguiling.”

CONSCIOUSNESS OF ONE’S IDENTITY. "Being holy means a radical self-knowledge; a sense of who one is, a consciousness of one’s own identity so thorough that it is no longer confused with the identities of others, of persons or of any creatures or of God or of any idols. For human beings, relief and remedy from such profound confusion concerning a person’s own identity and the identity and character of the Word of God becomes the indispensable and authenticating ingredient of being holy, and it is the most crucial aspect of becoming mature, or being fulfilled, as a human in this world, in fallen creation.”

NOT ECCENTRICITY, BUT SANITY AND CONSCIENCE. "Sanity and conscience, rather than some sentimental or pietistic or self-serving notion of moral perfection, constitute the usual marks of sanctification. That which distinguishes the saint is not eccentricity, not perfection, but sanity and conscience…. The irony in being holy is that one is plunged more fully into the practical existence of this world, as it is, than in any other way.”
GOD FORBID. God forbid that I should ever spend a moment of idle time nit-picking another believer.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

CANAL APPEAL. As desirable urban spaces go, the canal in downtown Indianapolis is a treasure. I ride the canal frequently as part of my "day off" urban bike trek. Each time, I am again impressed with its simplicity, peacefulness, energy, and invitation.

Friday, May 6, 2005

GIRO d'ITALIA: MAY 7-29. I love this photo (found on Yahoo!) taken during the 2001 Giro d'Italia, or Tour of Italy. The three-week long "Giro" is the first of the three "Grand Tours" for the world's best cyclists. It is followed by the Tour de France (the grandest of all!) in July and Vuelta Espana (Tour of Spain) in September.

FEW AMERICANS LAP THE BOOT. No, Lance Armstrong will not be racing in the Giro. But the Discovery Channel team will be well represented, with Tour of Georgia winner Tom Danielson gunning to wear the maglia rosa (the rose-colored jersey worn by the race leader). Chances of an American winning the Giro? Very slim. Only 5 Americans in a field of 198 racers. Danielson is a long shot. The best Yanks save themselves for the Tour de France. Typically, the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta Espana are affairs of national/regional pride.

FOLLOW THE TOUR. I'll offer periodic updates on Bikehiker, but you can follow each stage live (if you can wake up early enough!) or get daily stage results and photos at www.cyclingnews.com or www.velonews.com. If you haven't followed a multiple-stage cycling race, it's quite interesting via the Internet, even without TV or video.

ANOTHER IMAGE OF GOD. At WEMO (that is, WEst MOrris Street Free Methodist Church), I've been naming distorted images of God and offering a handful of more worthy images reflected in the life of Jesus. The Luke 15 story of the waiting father is, to me, one of the most helpful images of God in the Bible. This painting by Rembrandt idealizes the story. Henri Nouwen reflects on it in The Return of the Prodigal. Helmut Thielicke's work on the parables of Jesus is also insightful. I hope to explore this story on Sunday morning at 10:30 am at WEMO. If you're in the area, you're welcome (www.westmorrisfm.org).

SEARCHING EVERY DAY FOR US. Most have never assciated the word "father" with the description in Luke 15. Here's Chip Ingram's comment on it:
“The Father is searching every day, waiting for us to come home. Our repentance doesn’t generate the love he has for us; it brings us into an experience of his love. Jesus taught that the Father feels compassion for you every single moment of every single day. His arms are open and he’s going to kill the fatted calf and put a ring on your finger and sandals on your feet to let you know you’re a beloved daughter or son. He’s got a warm coat of blessing to put over your shoulders when you step in from the cold. He wants to show you how much he has loved you all along” (Chip Ingram in God: As He Longs For You to See Him).

Thursday, May 5, 2005

NEAR EASTSIDE ON A ROLL. Rehab and redevelopment continues in the Near Eastside neighborhoods closest to downtown Indy. On the downside, gentrification is occurring. Positively, the metamorphosis is neither abrupt nor disruptive. Few long-term neighborhood residents have been displaced. My commendations to the Re-Development Group (a for-profit company) and Riley Area Community Development Corporation (the non-profit which is active in the area once served by the now-defunct Eastside Community Investments CDC). This is the urban area I served in from 1987 to 2003. This view looks west to downtown from East Ohio Street.
WHEN SOMEONE IS SCRUTINIZING ME. Lately, I have received several anonymous e-mails and posts (which I remove) on this blog. The nature of these caustic communiques indicate that I am being scrutinized spiritually and professionally. If I am being measured, judged, and ready to be condemned for my freedom in Christ that doesn't square with another's or an ideology's litmus tests, so be it. I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, nothing to defend. Personal attacks will only heighten and deepen the grace which embraces me and by which I live and lead. Still, I invite my anonymous critic into disclosure and to a table of peace, understanding, and dialogue. This is Jesus' way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

WILL ABU GHRAIB BE EXCUSED AWAY? It is interesting to me that Lynndie England's own plea of guilty to photographed, well-publicized prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison was thrown out by a military judge today. Apparently the millions of us who viewed these pictures of abuse--in which England and others were obviously making sport of naked Iraqi and insurgent detainees--were just not seeing what was really going on. Apparently, we naive civilians don't know military standard operating procedures when we see them.

INTEGRITY VS EXCUSES. To this point, after numerous trials and investigations, little has come of this scandalous scar on America. Real soldiers, it seems, would be demanding that the military's integrity be restored and upheld. But it is beginning to appear that, after all is said and done, the abuses at Abu Ghraib may be all but excused away. I hope this is not so.

Amid adversity,
Hold me fast,
Keep me calm,
Focus my faith,
Guard my heart,
Grant me wisdom,
So that, above all,
I may honor You.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005


Parked at a curb facing
soccer fields filled with children,
I listen to their chatter,
take in their laughter.

In the mix are deeper voices
urging instructions,
offering encouragements;
sounds of reluctant parents drafted
by their spouses, or self-appointed
guides to the game.

I close my eyes to absorb these sounds.
It is a symphony: Less distinguished
strains of distant fields support
clearer melodies of nearer play.
A gleeful scream of a five-year old
accentuates the flowing movement.
Here and there a goal brings
a crescendo of praise and adulation.

Far more is invested in routine
practice than in the occasional
competitive performance.
And it is the adult who invests
attention in these hours who
becomes youthful, relearning
the language of innocence,
understanding the music of play.

Monday, May 2, 2005


"If you love Jesus Christ more than you fear human judgment, then you will not only speak of compassion, but act with it. Compassion means seeing your friend and your enemy in equal need, and helping both equally. It demands that you seek and find the stranger, the broken, the prisoner, and comfort him and offer him your help. Herein lies the holy compassion of God that causes the devil much distress." -- from Meditations of Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca.1207-ca.1294) quoted from "The Daily Dig" by the Bruderhof Communities.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF "GRACE NOTES" IS POSTED. Access the following quotes, poems, and reflections at www.geocities.com/bikehiker:
  • From the Distance - a Wendell Berry poem
  • Soccer Symphony - a poem
  • Health Care Cost & Access Crisis - a reflection
  • Vietnam & America - 30 Years Later - a poem

BEN DAVIS "PREMIERS" AT STATE CONTEST. I enjoyed listening to my son, Jared, sing with the Ben Davis High School Premiers in a state choral competition on Saturday at Southport High School in Indianapolis.